UIC Student Wins State Department Scholarship

A University of Illinois at Chicago student has won the U.S. State Department’s Critical Languages Scholarship for intensive language studies in Turkey this summer.

Hugh Vondracek, a sophomore in the UIC Honors College majoring in political science, received the highly competitive award, which places recipients in a fully-funded 10-week language program featuring cultural enrichment experiences. He will be based in northwest Turkey, where he will study Turkish at the Tömer Institute in Bursa.

Vondracek, who is minoring in international studies, studied in Spain for one year during high school and has extensive language skills in Spanish, German, Italian, and European Portuguese.

In view of Turkey’s unique political and geographic position between the East and West, Vondracek believes that building Turkish language skills will bolster his foreign policy credentials.

“Foreign policy has effects on real people,” he says of his aspirations in the field. “Making policy that is effective, but that is at the same time just, is something that is lost in policy making.”

After graduating from UIC, he plans to pursue a graduate degree and eventually seek a career as a Foreign Service officer working in a consulate or embassy.

Vondracek, a resident of Oak Lawn, Ill., graduated from H.L. Richards High School in 2010.

The Critical Languages Scholarship is part of the National Security Language Initiative, a U.S government interagency effort to increase the number of Americans mastering critical-need languages. Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. More information about UIC.

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